A NEW cafe, which will be used to train people with learning difficulties, will open at a Basingstoke venue next week.

Sponsors of The Cafe Project met at a special event to celebrate the completion of the refurbishment of The Dome, at Brighton Hill, where the cafe will be run.

The charity was founded by John Wright, who was inspired to set up the project by his 15-year-old son who has learning difficulties.

The 47-year-old, from Turner Close, Black Dam, wanted to offer his son and others the chance to gain experience and qualifications by working in a real food and drink outlet, serving customers.

A team of volunteers have been working over the last few months to refurbish The Dome and kit it out with chairs and tables.

Trustees of the charity invited all those who had helped The Cafe Project become a reality along to have a look at the new facilities.

Guests also enjoyed a thank you lunch prepared by Alison Pritchard, who will be responsible, along with Basingstoke College of Technology and volunteers, for training up to 10 students in all aspects of cafe and kitchen work.

Christine Fisher, one of the trustees, said: “Without the support of local businesses and companies, as well as Basingstoke and Deane Council, Basingstoke Voluntary Services and the many volunteer helpers, the project would never have taken off.

“Between them they have provided the premises, money, time and skills to help with the refurbishment. We are deeply grateful to everyone who has worked with us in the last 18 months, and especially in the recent weeks of intense activity.”

Various sponsors attended the event, including representatives from De La Rue, Sovereign Kingfisher and Barclays.

The cafe is due to open on September 26, and it is hoped that it will also be used for community activities such as senior citizen lunches, a youth club and online training for learning disabled people.

Volunteers are still needed to help in the cafe and office. Anyone interested should email dome@thecafe project.co.uk or call 01256 816375.